Week 4 Fantasy Pitching Planner

The Fantasy Baseball Pitching Planner is your guide to setting your rotations for the upcoming scoring period. Every week, we'll give you the latest on all of the matchups, highlight two-start options and much more. NOTE: The Planner will be updated with the latest rotation information every Sunday prior to lineup deadlines.

Week 3 started off with a jolt for some owners, as Dallas Braden was placed on the disabled list with a stiff shoulder on Monday. While Braden has departed the ranks of available pitchers for Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1), Homer Bailey (shoulder) could rejoin those ranks, as he made what was likely his final rehab start on Sunday. Updates on both pitchers' statuses, along with other updates on pitchers who may return within the next two weeks, are listed at the bottom of this Pitching Planner.

Each week, we also provide an interactive tool that lists every pitcher scheduled or likely to make a start during the coming scoring period. Also, check below the tool for more information on every two-start pitcher and several key one-start pitchers for Week 4.

Advisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)

Zach Britton, Baltimore: After allowing eight runs over his last two starts, Britton's ERA, now at 3.16, is getting closer to what we should expect it to be. He still has some regressing to do, but with his penchant for avoiding hard contact, Britton is a nice arm to add to your active roster now that he has two starts in Week 4.

Clay Buchholz, Boston: Buchholz's numbers for the year (5.31 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) are still brutal, but he did a better job with location in his last start. It's still a little too early to hit the panic button, so give Buchholz at least one more shot, as he has starts against the Orioles and Mariners this coming week.

Matt Cain, San Francisco: Even aces get blasted every now and then, and it was Cain's turn on Wednesday in Colorado. He should have no problem recovering with his next two starts coming against Pittsburgh and Washington.

Kyle Drabek, Toronto: Drabek is something of a risk for Ks and WHIP, so you can't trust him every single week. However, he won't implode like many other pitchers in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington or Yankee Stadium because of his strong ground ball tendencies. He could sneak away with a pair of wins, facing off against iffy A.J. Burnett and Colby Lewis.

Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox: Floyd had a rough time against the Angels last Sunday, but that should just be a blip on the radar, as he bounced back to handle the Rays on Thursday. You should be able to trust the 28-year-old just about every week.

Jaime Garcia, St. Louis: Remember Garcia's shaky spring? His 1.44 ERA and 1.08 WHIP have made me forget it, too. He's been even better than he was in his impressive rookie year.

Gio Gonzalez, Oakland: Despite taking his first loss on Wednesday to the Red Sox, it was a reassuring outing in some ways, as he struck out nine batters and walked only one. Gonzalez is not as much of a sure thing as Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill, but there is still no reason to bench him in standard mixed leagues.

Matt Harrison, Texas: The lefty will get his comeuppance eventually, as he's unlikely to maintain a .197 BABIP. Still, with a high ground-ball rate and only four line drives allowed in four starts, he has some things going for him, and he could continue his hot streak with starts against the Blue Jays and A's.

Felix Hernandez, Seattle: Good news all around for Felix owners. He had his place in the rotation bumped up so that he now gets two starts in Week 4. He is also coming off a strong start against Oakland after putting in a pair of subpar appearances.

Daniel Hudson, Arizona: Hudson has been a different pitcher this year, and over his last two starts, it has not been for the better. He has been less flyball-prone, but he's also had more problems with control, and not coincidentally, hitters have had more success reaching base when they do make contact. He is still racking up strikeouts, so there's enough upside to trot Hudson out for at least one more week.

Ian Kennedy, Arizona: After a poor showing against the Cardinals in Week 2, Kennedy rebounded against the Reds in his last start. Barring an extended slump, owners have been given little cause to bench Kennedy in standard mixed leagues.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia: Save for a bad start against the Braves in Week 1, Lee has been showing his usual ace stuff. Look for an already small 1.11 WHIP to shrink during Week 4.

Most Added Pitchers
* as of April 24
Player % increase
1. Mitchell Boggs, RP, Cardinals 44
2. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals 37
3. Josh Tomlin, SP, Indians 20
4. Aaron Harang, SP, Padres 19
5. Brandon McCarthy, SP, Athletics 18
6. Bartolo Colon, SP, Yankees 18
7. Matt Capps, RP, Twins 15
8. Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Rays 15
9. Randy Wolf, SP, Brewers 14
10. Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 14

Francisco Liriano, Minnesota: Liriano has really struggled with his control, but his return to ground-ball tendencies over his last two starts is a very encouraging sign. The Rays' and Royals' lineups don't possess too many threats to take him deep, so keep Liriano active in this two-start week.

Derek Lowe, Atlanta: Lowe, who was sporting a high strand rate going into Wednesday's game against the Dodgers, saw his fortunes even out with a three-inning, five-run performance. He is neither that bad nor as good as he appeared to be through his first three starts. He's certainly good enough to trust with a pair of starts this coming week, one of which comes against the punchless Padres.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland: The fourth-year pitcher seems to be coming into his own, though it's too early to say so with any certainty. While he still presents some risk to mixed league owners, starts against the Royals and Tigers offer a decent opportunity to roll the dice with Masterson one more week.

Chris Narveson, Milwaukee: Like Masterson, Narveson has been slowed in recent years by changes in his role and mediocre performance. Right now, he looks like an even safer bet than Masterson, because he has been striking out batters at a high rate. As long as he keeps this up, you can keep him active in just about any format.

Ricky Nolasco, Florida: Nolasco has had even better control than usual this year, which is really saying something. Also, for a change, he has done a good job of stranding the baserunners he has allowed. Until he gives you a reason to do otherwise, keep Nolasco in your rotation.

Jered Weaver, L.A. Angels: With a 52 percent flyball rate this year, he is bound to get bitten by the homer bug eventually, but that won't affect his Fantasy value. He is simply too efficient to be anything other than an ace.

Jordan Zimmermann, Washington: Aside from a bad outing against the powerful Cardinals, Zimmermann has looked awfully good so far. The Mets and Giants should pose little problem for him in Week 4.

Other Add/Activate Targets

Brandon Beachy, Atlanta: Beachy gets a tough assignment against Pujols and Co., but he is proving to be a reliable source of strikeouts while putting up a decent ERA. He should be gaining the trust of standard mixed league owners.

Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: In between his horrible season opener and Saturday's stinker at Minnesota, Carmona posted a 1.25 ERA and 0.78 WHIP over three starts. The Indians' ace should rebound from the wildness he exhibited in his last start, making him a pitcher who can be trusted nearly every week, even in shallower formats.

Bruce Chen, Kansas City: Chen was tagged for six runs against the Rangers on Sunday, and he will be prone to bad outings when he faces tough lineups in hitter-friendly environments. His encore in Week 4 will be against a limp Twins lineup. Chen needs a good matchup to be viable, even in AL-only leagues, but he gets one this time around.

Brian Duensing, Minnesota: I will admit I was slow to come around on Duensing, but at this point, I don't know what kind of sign Fantasy owners are looking for. He is active in just 34 percent of leagues, but all Duensing does is throw strikes and get outs. He is more deserving of an active spot in mixed leagues -- even standard ones -- than several more popular starters, like teammate Carl Pavano or John Lackey. Give him a try at the Royals this coming week; you won't regret it.

Jeff Francis, Kansas City: Francis is active in only 11 percent of leagues, and that number has been sharply on the decrease. Friday's start at Texas aside, the ex-Rockie had been steady this year and should be getting more consideration in deeper leagues. Francis still needs to be active in more deeper mixed-league and AL-only rosters.

Jason Hammel, Colorado: Hammel has yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA in any season, so it's understandable that owners in standard mixed leagues won't go near him. However, he has shown himself to be valuable, even in those shallower formats, when he has good matchups. This is especially true in Head-to-Head leagues, where strikeout-to-walk ratio matters. Hammel gets the Pirates this coming week, so if you're looking for someone to round out your rotation, you could do a lot worse than the six-year veteran.

Hiroki Kuroda, L.A. Dodgers: Kuroda is doing what he always does, putting up an ERA under 4.00 and a WHIP below 1.20. Lesser pitchers have been feasting on the San Diego lineup, so owners should expect Kuroda to do the same. Get him active and reap the benefits.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston: As back-to-back scoreless starts have shown, Dice-K hasn't completely lost his ability to get big-league batters out. More often than not, he's too inconsistent to trust in mixed leagues, but with a Week 4 tilt against the Mariners, he's worth a try for one more week.

Brandon McCarthy, Oakland: McCarthy has been sensational since his first start, striking out 18 batters in 22 innings, while displaying pinpoint accuracy and allowing few balls beyond the infield. The Angels should be a little tougher than the Mariners, Tigers or Twins, but McCarthy is still someone to consider in mixed leagues for this coming scoring period.

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: Yes, Niemann got clocked again on Thursday, this time by the White Sox. He avoided giving up a homer for the first time all year, and his other supporting stats look quite good. Give him one more chance, since next time out he is facing the Twins.

Clayton Richard, San Diego: Richard has been relying more on pop-ups than grounders this year, but it had worked for him up until his fourth start at Houston. Look for him to do well against a Dodger lineup that he held to a 2.51 ERA in two starts last season.

Inadvisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)

Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati: Arroyo has been far better than his 4.24 ERA would suggest, but even so, this might be a good week to stash him in standard mixed leagues. First of all, he seems unlikely to keep up a strikeout-per-inning pace for much longer. Secondly, he has a couple of very formidable opponents in Chris Narveson and Ricky Nolasco, so a win will be hard to come by. Finally, he may not even make that second start against the Marlins, as Homer Bailey may get activated to make a start in that series.

A.J. Burnett, N.Y. Yankees: It's true that Burnett is 3-0 and he's rediscovered the strikeout. The bad news is that his flyball and home run rates keep going in the wrong direction, and he's probably lucky to have a 4.37 ERA. Even if he's not, that's a bit lofty for standard mixed league owners, even if he's getting run support.

Phil Coke, Detroit: The converted reliever got away with some underwhelming peripherals in his first two starts, but the lowly Mariners made him pay in start No. 3. He gets another crack at the M's next week, plus a start against the Indians, but even with those decent matchups, there's just not much to recommend Coke to owners outside of AL-only leagues.

Wade Davis, Tampa Bay: Davis isn't striking anyone out, and he's probably fortunate to have allowed only one home run so far. Until he starts missing some bats, there are many better alternatives available for standard mixed league owners looking for a two-start pitcher.

Jon Garland, L.A. Dodgers: Include Garland on the list of pitchers who just don't get enough strikeouts to be useful across all formats, even when they get two starts.

Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs: Garza finally had a good start, but it was against the lowly Pirates. All of his strikeouts -- 34 in 24 2/3 innings -- come with too much risk, as his ERA and WHIP are still too high.

Luke Hochevar, Kansas City: A 57 percent strand rate -- and the 5.12 ERA that results from it -- would be suspicious for just about any pitcher, but not for Hochevar. He has yet to be successful at stranding runners in his major league career. If that improves, he may be an option in deeper mixed leagues, but not until then.

Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox: Humber's very vanilla minor league stats are translating into vanilla major league stats. Even with two starts, he can be ignored outside of AL-only leagues.

John Lannan, Washington: The Nats' lefty is doing his usual superb job of getting ground-ball outs, but unusually high-walk and line-drive rates have left him with a 1.62 WHIP. He should improve on that, but even so, a lack of strikeouts makes him relevant solely in deeper formats.

Colby Lewis, Texas: In the space of just a couple of weeks, Lewis has gone from a must-start to a can't-start in standard mixed leagues. Thanks to sagging velocity, Colby can no longer be associated with hard cheese. He is just a mess right now, and even a start against Oakland won't likely salvage his week.

Jesse Litsch, Toronto: Recalled from a brief stay in Triple-A to take the spot of demoted Brett Cecil, Litsch might look like a pitcher to trust in standard mixed leagues. He has an impressive 16 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings and a 3.63 ERA, but he also owns a fully-deserved 1.44 WHIP. All of his stats could easily get worse, as he has virtually no track record of being even an average strikeout pitcher. Oh, and he has starts at the Yankees and the Rangers.

Paul Maholm, Pittsburgh: Though he's been inconsistent through his first four starts, overall, Maholm has been his usual self. In other words, he's pitching to contact and allowing a good number of hits on balls in play. Even with a pair of starts, leave him alone outside of NL-only leagues.

Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh: Morton has become a curiosity, as he has managed a 3.33 ERA despite walking more batters than he has struck out. An extremely-high 69 percent ground ball rate has been his savior, but that still won't cut it if he doesn't reduce his walks. Morton has the skills to be a mixed league-viable pitcher, but he's not there just yet.

Dustin Moseley, San Diego: Moseley has also built his 1.40 ERA on the foundation of a high ground-ball rate, but his ceiling is lower than Morton's. The Dodgers' revitalized offense could jolt Moseley's stats back towards their norm, and his start against the Braves won't be any picnic either.

Bud Norris, Houston: Norris' improving strikeout and walks rates, not to mention his 2.78 xFIP, tell us that he's been better than his 4.91 ERA says he's been. With a start against Jaime Garcia and the Cardinals in Week 4, now might not be the best time to find out if Norris can rebound, especially since he's had it easy in recent starts. Norris' last two appearances came against the Padres and Mets. Watch how Norris does against St. Louis and Milwaukee this week, though, because he is still available in 51 percent of leagues.

Ivan Nova, N.Y. Yankees: The rookie has needed GPS to find the strike zone, and he might be one more poor start away from losing his job. If Tuesday's outing against the White Sox does not go well, he could be replaced by Kevin Millwood for his next scheduled start on Sunday versus the Blue Jays. Especially with the threat of demotion looming, don't start Nova outside of AL-only leagues this week.

Esmil Rogers, Colorado: Rogers failed his toughest test of the year, allowing eight runs to the Giants on Monday. He is not yet ready for mixed leagues, even as a two-start pitcher.

James Russell, Chicago Cubs: Russell has been awful in his two starts to date, and it's not out of the question that the Cubs will pursue other options while they wait for Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner to return from the disabled list. Russell has been confirmed as Tuesday's starter against Colorado, but even if he makes both scheduled starts, there is no reason to use him in any formats at this point.

Chris Young, N.Y. Mets: Though he had been very tough in his two starts before hitting the DL with biceps tendinitis, Young is best avoided in mixed leagues this week. Not only may he be a little rusty, but the majors' most fly-ball-prone pitcher will pay a visit to the launching pad known as Citizens Bank Park in Week 4.

Other Drop/Stash Targets

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox: Buehrle's ownership and activation rates are dropping, but they still have a ways to go. While he still has his trademark control, the lefty has only 13 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco: It's all going wrong for Bumgarner -- not many Ks, too many walks, a barrage of line drives, and a sagging ground ball rate. It's time to stop giving last year's rookie sensation a free pass and start using a reserve slot on him. If you don't have reserves, try Bumgarner one more time, since he gets the Pirates in his Week 4 start.

Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh: Only a miniscule 5 percent home run per fly-ball rate going into Sunday's game against Washington was keeping Correia viable outside of NL-only leagues. He's capable of fewer fly balls, as well as more strikeouts, but until he starts producing those, he needs to be kept out of mixed leagues.

Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs: Dempster has had a little trouble with the long ball early in the season, but otherwise, he's been the same pitcher we've known for the past three years. Still, it's a concern, as he is not getting many swinging strikes, as data from Fangraphs.com shows. Even though he's still getting strikeouts, he's not fooling enough batters, so owners in shallow mixed leagues should give Dempster a rest this week.

J.A. Happ, Houston: Happ endured another rough start on Thursday, this time at the hands of the Mets. Something is not right with him this season, so until he figures it out, he's best left to NL-only owners.

Aaron Harang, San Diego: Harang's stats look great so far, but his Week 4 start against Atlanta could be his most difficult test to date. If he passes this one, he should be all clear to start in standard mixed leagues.

Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox: Despite striking out nearly a batter per inning, hitters have sliced up Jackson with a .295 batting average. Maybe, just maybe, a staggering 28 percent line-drive rate has something to do with that. That's three starts in a row in which Jackson has been very hittable, so owners in standard mixed leagues should give another pitcher a try in Week 4. The 27-year-old could have another tough start facing off against the Yankees on Thursday.

Kyle Lohse, St. Louis: Lohse has also put up surprisingly robust numbers through his first three weeks. He profiles very similarly to Brandon McCarthy, though a slightly elevated line drive rate may point to future trouble. With an upcoming start against the Astros, Lohse is definitely safe to use in deeper mixed leagues, but standard mixed league owners may want to wait and see how this one goes.

Jonathon Niese, N.Y. Mets: Despite an inflated ERA, Niese is a pitcher you can stream into your standard mixed league rotation if the matchups aren't too bad. A start against Roy Halladay and the Phillies doesn't fall into that category.

Carl Pavano, Minnesota: When Pavano can keep the ball down, he's good enough to consider in mixed leagues, but he hasn't been doing a good job of it this year. Skip him outside of AL- only leagues until he can get his ground ball rate back up.

Joe Saunders, Arizona: Saunders is continuing on his downward spiral. His ownership rate is down to 5 percent, but it really shouldn't be even that high. There is little reason to use him, even in NL-only leagues.

Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati: Last season ended on such a promising note for Volquez, but this year, he has merely been a home run dispenser. He needs a time out in standard mixed leagues, and maybe deeper ones, too.

Home Run Alerts

Armando Galarraga, Arizona: Galarraga has allowed eight dingers in 21 innings. It doesn't matter where he is pitching; he should just be avoided.

Alexi Ogando, Texas: Ogando's flyball-prone ways came back to bite him against the Yankees, as he yielded his first three homers of the year in that start. A home start against the slugging Blue Jays doesn't promise to go much better.

Brandon Morrow, Toronto: Morrow's flyball tendencies and Texas' ballpark are a lethal combination. He has allowed four home runs in 15 2/3 career innings at Rangers Ballpark. This would be a good week to sit Morrow in shallow mixed leagues.

Javier Vazquez, Florida: Moving to the NL may not be the answer for Vazquez, who sports a 6.52 ERA, even after a decent start against the Rockies on Saturday. A start in hitter-friendly Cincinnati is also not likely to help matters.

DL Watch

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati: Bailey had a successful rehab start for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday. There is a good chance that he will make a start during the Reds' series against the Marlins (April 29-May 1), so owners in NL-only leagues needing another arm in their rotation might as well activate Bailey for the coming week.

Zack Greinke, Milwaukee: Greinke will make his second Triple-A rehab start on Friday. He is still on track to make his Brewers debut on May 4, which falls in Fantasy Week 5 (May 2-May 8).

Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox: Peavy experienced a setback in his rehab this week, so he will not be ready to return to the White Sox in Fantasy Week 4 (Aprii 25-May 1). While there is no timetable for his return at this point, he will resume his rehab, making a start for Triple-A Charlotte on Friday.

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati: Cueto did not perform well in his most recent rehab start for Triple-A Louisville. He will make another start for Louisville on Tuesday. There is a small chance that he could return on Sunday (May 1), but a Week 5 return is looking more realistic.

Brian Matusz, Baltimore: Matusz is expected to throw bullpen session this coming week, and Fantasy owners should not expect to see the lefty back on the Orioles' 25-man roster for at least two more weeks.

Joel Pineiro, L.A. Angels: Pineiro will make one or two rehab starts, beginning with Class A Inland Empire on Sunday. At the earliest, he could rejoin the Angels late in Fantasy Week 4 (April 25-May 1).

Dallas Braden, Oakland: Braden learned that there is no structural damage in his shoulder, so he will avoid surgery. He will be eligible to come off the DL on May 1, but since he will probably not throw for at least a few more days, it is unlikely that he will return that soon.

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Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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